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The Wedding Guest's Tale


Wed Jan 21 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Thu Jan 22 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Fri Jan 23 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Sat Jan 24 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm
Sun Jan 25 2015, 10:00am–6:00pm

Where: National Museum Of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road , Museum, Singapore

Restrictions: All ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

The Wedding Guest’s Tale is a multi-sensory, interactive installation that interrogates how we construct home, family and community. It consists of nests/imagined dwellings of various dimensions knitted out of found materials, mostly discarded and deemed no longer useful.

Alongside the nests will be assemblages of objects/ artefacts associated with marriage and domesticity throughout South East Asia. Whilst functional, necessary and useful for daily tasks, many common domestic tools also hold the potential of threat and violence, mirroring the ambiguity that sits at the heart of our constructs of home and community.

The Wedding Guest’s Tale explores the duality of our desire to build and belong to community, and the fear of losing that belonging. As part of the experience of the installation, viewers or “guests” are invited to knit available materials, or materials they bring to the museum, into the installation.

A soundscape will also be developed around the nests, including stories by Singaporeans and their experience of family and community. As guests knit and listen to the stories, each day of The Wedding Guest’s Tale becomes a unique opportunity for inclusion, the growing number of nests evidence of a new, if fleeting, kind of community.

Shelly is a Canadian artist who has been living in Singapore for over a decade. Much of her work is performance based and informed by her experiences of working and collaborating with artists from different cultures.

The idea for this work came from two completely different sources. The first was the act of knitting: its history in the domestic arts and textile industry, and the sense of community that arises naturally when people sit together to make something with their hands.

The second was the poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the poem, there is this very odd construction of a story within a story, with no obvious link between the two. An ancient mariner shows up at a wedding reception, singles out one of the guests and tells him a terrible, supernatural tale. The mariner’s tale takes place at sea, completely away from conventional society, and a similar kind of isolation envelopes the guest and the mariner as the story is told. Although the guest has no interest in hearing the tale, he is compelled to listen, and through it he is changed. He is removed from the fabric of family and friends celebrating a relative’s nuptials, but becomes wiser for it. Story telling is framed as a transgressive, but ultimately redemptive act for both the guest and the mariner.

The Wedding Guest’s Tale explores the duality of our desire to build and belong to community, and the fear of losing that belonging. In the act of selecting what we will weave into our social units, there is also a process of de-selection and rejection. Consequently, at the centre of our carefully constructed security there is an absence, or a binary world of what we are not. With that knowledge comes the continual threat that at any given moment, if we display or indeed are in some way part of the rejected world, we will lose our home and our security.